Driving a motor vehicle is a priviledge and responsibility that shouldn’t be taken likely. Once you are behind the wheel you are directly responsible for the safety of yourself, your passengers and other motorists on the roadway. Here are 8 driving safety tips that you should consider every time you hit road.
1. Buckle up
As obvious as it sounds, keeping your seatbelt on at all times while you are operating a vehicle is the first and simplest way to substantially reduce your chance of serious injury in the event of an accident. Yes, it’s legally required that you always have on your seatbelt; but much more importantly, it’s a costly mistake to not wear your seatbelt. According to a 2009 NHTSA study, in a hypothetical situation, if the use of seat belts increased to at least 90 percent in every state, over 1,600 lives could be saved and more than 20,000 injuries prevented.
2. Avoid distractions
Keeping focused exclusively on the task at hand and avoiding distractions is imperative in staying safe while driving. Being less than 100 percent focused on the road ahead and the cars around you can result in devastating consequences. A critical distraction to drivers these days seems to be the use of a mobile device while operating a car. Engaging in such behavior requires multitasking from the brain, a process that is particularly risky, which results in four times the likelihood that you will crash. Put away the cell phone for the time being; it’s worth it.
3. Don’t drive unless you’re ready
Being in the proper state of mind to drive is vitally important, and any mental state other than that which allows you to focus behind the wheel is potentially dangerous. Remember, driving while intoxicated is never an option, and should be avoided at all and every single cost imaginable. In addition, driving while drowsy or emotionally distressed can result in similar impairment to those who have alcohol in their bloodstream. The American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety also reports that sleepy driving accounts for 1 out of 6 fatal automobile crashes.
4. Maintain a safe vehicle
One common maintenance problem that often leads to a crash is improper tire pressure. Any unevenness between tires or levels that are too high or low can lead to a blowout, especially in heavy vehicles like SUVs. Effective and reliable brakes are also of utmost importance to keeping a safe vehicle; worn out brakes or issues with the car’s hydraulic system can create extremely hazardous situations for drivers.
5. Avoid high speeds
Increasing your speed gives you less time to react to other cars and to come to a stop. Consequently, the likelihood of crashing into other vehicles or stationary objects increases, as does the potential for severity of the accident. Especially in poor weather conditions, staying within the legal speed limit is essential in reducing your chances of a serious accident.
6. Take breaks
Oftentimes driving for long periods of time on an open road can lead to “highway hypnosis”, also known as “white line fever”, in which the driver controls his or her vehicle without conscious attention paid to the act of driving, almost as if in a daze. The Highway Code suggests taking a break every two hours to avoid drowsiness, discomfort, and loss of focus. Use the time off to get some fresh air and drink some water; a short break is worth the decreased unease and ultimately safer driving experience.
7. Keep good visibility during poor weather and nighttime
Keep your eyes and ears open as you drive, and turn your headlights on; good visibility is a necessary part of driving. Make sure that your headlights are working effectively enough to see well in front of your car, but also maintain a greater-than-usual distance from the car ahead of you. Use your windshield wipers to keep a clean and glare-less window in front of you.
8. Stay on the defensive
Driving defensively by anticipating potentially dangerous situations can mean the difference between a serious collision and a close-call. It’s necessary to understand that not all drivers adhere to advised standard driving safety procedures, often making them blameworthy in the case of an accident. Reckless driving combined with a lack of anticipation on the part of nearby drivers can be a dangerous combination, so remaining attentive and on the defensive is critical for one’s safety.